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Identity, Consciousness and Value by Peter Unger

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By Peter Unger

The subject of non-public id has caused a number of the liveliest and best debates in fresh philosophy. In a desirable new contribution to the dialogue, Peter Unger provides a psychologically aimed, yet bodily established, account of our id over the years. whereas helping the account, he explains why many influential modern philosophers have underrated the significance of actual continuity to our survival, casting a brand new gentle at the paintings of Lewis, Nagel, Nozick, Parfit, Perry, Shoemaker, and others. Deriving from his dialogue of our id itself, Unger produces a unique yet commonsensical thought of the family among id and a few of our private matters. In a conservative yet versatile spirit, he explores the results of his idea for questions of price and of the great lifestyles.

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Extra resources for Identity, Consciousness and Value

Sample text

This torture INVESTIGATING OUR BELIEFS ABOUT OURSELVES 33 will be so severe that, although I might clearly enough imagine how it might go on even longer, I cannot imagine how, in any other way, the horror might be any worse for the emerging person. We pose our extremely negative selection test question: Will I endure very great pain during this present week so that I may select undergoing the surgery, at the end of this week, rather than the eating of the soup? No; I will not. This indicates my deep belief that, just as I will survive that soup eating, so also will I survive that operation.

And, in either case, the future life will be so utterly horrible that, in the other case, the future life will be no worse. Consequently, there is no good reason for me to make this present week a terrible time as well. As I promised, this is an extremely gruesome sort of test and, in addition, one that is confusingly complex. Some readers, no doubt, will see further problems with this test, leading them to question its reliability as well: Perhaps I should actually choose to undergo the operation, not because of any questions of identity, but because, contrary to the test's assumption, when I am in a cretinous amnesiac state, those terrible tortures really will not be as bad for me as any tortures ever can be.

The avoidance of great pain test is an instance of a quite general sort of test: sacrifice for future well-being tests. In that it involves the avoidance of pain, rather than the procurement of positive goods, it is a negative form of these well-being tests. In that the pain to be avoided is extremely great, this pain avoidance test is of an extreme negative form. At the other extreme, there are very positive forms of future well-being tests. For example, there is this very positive test question: Will I sacrifice much now so that, after I undergo a certain process, the emerging person will have, instead of only a moderately long and pleasant life, an extremely long and pleasant life?

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